Continuing from last week’s post. First draft, subject to the cutting floor and massive revisions, etc.
Mal waited until the other woman left the room as asked, carefully pulling the door shut behind her. “Did you see the look on her face when you said you prefer the crop?”
Victor took a moment to respond. Indeed he had seen the flare of darkness in Shiloh’s eyes, the softening of her luscious mouth, and the pink flash of her tongue across those tempting lips. She hadn’t been repulsed by his admission, not at all. When he’d regained control of his voice, he answered, “Yes.”
“And did you notice her likeness in the–”
“Of course I did,” he snapped, jerking his legs down off the table so he could pace.
“So what’s the problem?”
“She wasn’t on my staff for Internet Secrets, so it’s highly unlikely that she’s your spy. Her entire body screams submission when she looks at you, she’s perky, creative, and well liked by everyone on her team. Her instincts are dead on and she’s developed an incredible show that’s perfect for you and VCONN. If you snapped your fingers and ordered her to heel, she’d be at your feet in a heartbeat.”
He made himself halt in front of the window and jerked the blinds open. Blindly, he stared out at downtown Dallas, blinking his eyes against the light. “That’s not what I want.”
“I’m worried about you.” Mal joined him at the window but he couldn’t bear to see the sympathy in her gaze, so he pretended extreme interest in the skyline. “You haven’t been serious about anyone in years.”
Since Kimberly, echoed in the silence. Despite his friend’s care not to mention his ex-fiancée’s name, he still winced. “I’ve dated.”
“You’ve taken women to charity events,” Mal said in a flat, careful voice. “You may have even taken them to your bed. But you haven’t taken a woman who knows your true needs and makes damned sure you’re satisfied.”
He couldn’t help the twitch of his mouth into a grim, sad smile that matched the emotions he kept buried in his heart. “No one can satisfy me.”
With a growl, she thumped him on the back. “Don’t give me that crap. You and I share many of those darker urges and you know I’m more than happy with Andy. He needs me as much as I need him. He likes me mean and nasty with a flail in my hands.”
“Kimberly knew what kind of man I am.” Each word sliced Victor’s throat like razorblades. “We met at Silken. She still couldn’t deal with the truth.”
“She liked you well enough to accept your engagement ring and enjoy your money for months.” Mal didn’t bother keeping the disdain out of her voice. “She used you. She wanted a top who would tie her up and dedicate hours to her enjoyment, without demanding anything from her in return. She acted like it was a privilege for you to devote hours to her pleasure. She never took care of you. She never loved you.”
“That’s unfair. I know she loved me.” Victor closed his eyes. Kimberly’s delicate face blazed in his mind, an image from the night she’d left him. Tears streaked her face, her eyes wide, white, rolling with terror while she babbled her safeword over and over, a litany to save her from the nightmare. She’d sobbed in his arms for an hour before leaving for good, and he’d never forget her parting accusation. You hurt me. “She couldn’t handle heavy edge play.”
And I’m always on the edge. He shook his head ruefully. The sad fact was that the longer he denied himself, the sharper and more vicious that edge became.
“She couldn’t have loved you, not the way you deserve,” Mal insisted. “Not if she couldn’t handle your kink. You’re punishing yourself, V, and I hate it. I hate seeing you close yourself behind prison bars just because one sub couldn’t deal with the full Master.”
“It’s not just one and you know it. I’ve trained dozens of bottoms over the years, introduced them to the scene, and time after time, they leave me and move on to another top. Someone safer. And I can’t say that I blame them.”
He finally met his friend’s gaze and let all the disappointments and failures of his thirty-six years weigh in his gaze. “I’m tired, Mal. I’m tired of breaking in the young ones while knowing full well that they’ll never be able to handle my kind of needs. I’m too old for this shit.”
“You’re burned out.”
“No. Far from it.” Victor smiled and even the strongest, proudest Mistress in Dallas flinched and dropped her gaze. It took constant control to keep that vicious clawing need buried deeply enough for him to function like a normal human being. “I’m a sadist in the truest sense of the word. Why do you think I didn’t make a play for Shiloh months ago? My brief meet-and-greet interview with her after she was hired almost set my desk on fire. It’s been pure hell to know she’s been under my power here at VCONN this entire time, close, available, as attracted to me as I am to her, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. All it takes is one phone call to the police, one trip to the hospital, and I won’t have to worry about this season’s ratings. I’ll be in prison.”
“I know the risks all too well, but that’s why it’s important not to shut yourself off from the people who understand. You quit going to Silken—”
“For good reason,” Victor said dryly. “My ex-fiancée married the owner.”
“Which is why I started hosting my own parties, but you always refuse to come. You can’t just turn off being a Master no matter how much you want to. Why else do you think Shiloh picked up on your vibe? You can’t help broadcasting your power, and she’s not afraid of you.”
“Yet.” He destroyed the small hope that threatened to sprout. “The green ones always start out interested, but a little bondage and spanking are typically all they want. Anything heavier sends them running for the hills. I can’t do the light stuff any more and pretend that’s enough. I just can’t. I need…”
He jerked his ponytail tight enough his eyes watered. He relished the small pain. It sharpened him, woke him up, made him feel alive and in control. He needed pain, and if he couldn’t give it to somebody else, then he’d at least give it to himself.
“In her storyboards, did that whip in your hand look like a toy? What about those stripes on her back? She knows, V. She’s offering you a blatant invitation to try her out under the guise of this show. This is your chance to approach her in a safe, controlled environment.”
“If she freaks out, the show is ruined and the season goes down the shitter.”
“We can do nothing and the season still goes down the shitter. Or,” Mal drawled out, “Master V and his new sub melt everyone’s socks off and the show is the biggest hit in Dallas history.”
He took a deep breath and let the big picture form in his mind. He’d always had the ability to scan the field of play in an instant, evaluate the defense, and guess which receiver was most likely going to break free for the big play. His competitive senses vibrated with excitement. Win it all and go home with the trophy, or lose and cry in the mud, at least he’d never been afraid to play the game.
He’d been The Victor, the leader who took his team to victory, no matter the cost.
This was the biggest game he’d ever played in his life. This game was for his heart, and he always played to win.
“Well then. I guess we have ourselves a new show.”